Can Virtual Assistants Make You More Productive? An Experiment, and a TimeSvr Review

In a previous post I discuss how I outsourced my cooking for $60 a week.  In this article, I discuss my experiences with a virtual assistant.

I also reviewed a team of virtual assistants, and compare my single virtual assistant versus a team of assistants with task based processing.

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The Experiment

I know some of the day to day tasks I do online suck up a lot of my time.  I have automated some of these tasks, such as automatic email filtering, and streamlined other processes such as how I read blogs.  I decided to try an experiment with a virtual assistant, to see if I could effectively outsource parts of my digital life.  I also compared my solo virtual assistant to a professionally managed, concierge style virtual assistant team.

What I expected

I imagined I would be able to save some time with a virtual assistant. Further, I hypothesized that the team would do a better job than my solo assistant – but would be more expensive, and it would end up being a decision based on value provided.

A Normal Sid Life Processing Flow

Before we get to comparing the virtual assistants, let’s set up the base task processing workflow.  I am one person, I have a list of tasks to do, and I do them:

Of course, we can see where the bottleneck is here: Sid.


  • Consistent quality
  • Simple organization hierarchy – Single point of contact
  • Task progress constantly updated and available


  • Doesn’t scale
  • Single point of failure

Sid Life Processing with One Virtual Assistant

To remove the bottleneck in the process above I add a second person and delegate some tasks to them.

In this case, some of the tasks I have been delegating are:

  • Researching various items for me in spreadsheets
  • Summarizing data

In the new workflow, yellow arrows show processes the virtual assistant is handling, and blue show processes Sid is handling:

With two people, I’ve already increased my efficiency.

I still have to review the work, but it takes 5 minutes to review versus a couple of hours to do it.  While the initial set up took some time and I needed to go back and forth to get the quality up to par, now that we have a smooth system set up Prabhu is executing well.


  • Consistent quality provided the tasks are well defined
  • Improved efficiency for my low urgency, high priority tasks. I can take them off my task queue and hand them off


  • Doesn’t completely scale – There are still some limits on hours and availability

Life Processing with a Virtual Assistant Team

I compared a few services that provide a task based (as opposed to assistant based) solution, where each task goes into a queue and is handled by whatever assistant is available and qualified.

Now I can assign multiple tasks, and if the service has the bandwidth available, all my tasks will be worked on at the same time:


I think this new model is very interesting, and on the surface looks like it would be much more efficient than having a jack-of-all-trades type assistant, since each task can be handled by an optimized person.

How does A Team of Assistants stack up?


  • Consistent quality – again, provided the tasks are well defined
  • More tasks at once  With multiple people working at once, instead of 2-3 days of a single virtual assistant’s time, I had all my research back within 5 hours.


  • Additional communications channels – since I don’t know who exactly is working on a task, if I want to speak with them I have to call, have the specific aide located, and then I can contact them.

Comparison of Approaches

So, what are the main benefits of each approach?

  • No assistants:  The biggest benefit of having neither is simplicity. There is overhead in providing assistants enough details so that they can complete a task without your intervention, as well as reviewing their work.
  • Single virtual assistant:  A single assistant provides you with a consistent, loyal workforce you can depend on, such as in my case.  The downside here is if your assistant is sick/unavailable, that’s too bad – unless you have a backup assistant, you likely are going to be without help until they are back to 100%.  Over time, they will become more skilled to your specific needs and likely not need any retraining.
  • Virtual assistant team: I think the biggest benefits of the team approach vs a single assistant are 1) the quick turnaround, 2) the multiple aides working on multiple tasks at a time and.  The biggest downside is you may have to get a service, which will add overhead costs or you need to vet more people individually. I cover this in more detail in The Outsource Solution

Conclusion, Recommendations

  • No extra tasks, I can handle everything and/or I don’t like delegating: Don’t hire anybody.
  • I have consistent repeated, reasonably skilled, easily outlined, low urgency tasks: A single virtual assistant will likely suffice.
  • Varied, occasional tasks that can be very urgent and require a timely response – for this situation specifically, you might consider a team of round the clock assistants, or a local virtual  (or even real life!) assistant.

Ready to get started outsourcing so you can accomplish more in less time? Read the details about my new course The Outsource Solution. You’ll learn you how to outsource your tasks, so you can turn small amounts of money into large amounts of time. Spend more time with people you care about, and doing the things you love.Click To Learn More

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